Susan Lewis, Carroll University faculty

Dr. Susan Lewis

Professor of Biology Get Contact Info


Biology Animal Behavior


Dr. Lewis has always been interested in animals and the outdoors. It was no surprise to anyone that she majored in Biology in college and continued on to graduate school in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior with a Master’s degree in Environmental Education along the way. She completed her doctoral dissertation at the University of Minnesota working with Dr. Anne Pusey, whose research focuses on lions and chimpanzees. During graduate school, she realized that she really loved teaching, and made the decision to search for a position at a small, teaching-focused college or university. Dr. Lewis has been teaching at Carroll since 1994, and loves the close relationships she can build with her students and colleagues. While at Carroll, she has helped to build programs in Animal Behavior and Marine Biology. Dr. Lewis has also worked in Faculty Development for much of her time here, helping other faculty members to think creatively about teaching and learning. She has been active in research throughout her time at Carroll, and has published over 20 scientific articles. More importantly, 26 undergraduate students are co-authors on the work Dr. Lewis has published. It is important to her that students have an opportunity to participate in research, and this commitment influences both the classes she teaches and the research she does. She lives within walking distance of campus with her husband, who is a municipal attorney in Waukesha. They have a son in high school and a daughter in college. They also have two Tibetan terriers. Despite the fact that she teaches Animal Behavior, they are very poorly behaved!


  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. in Behavioral Ecology, 1993
  • University of Minnesota, M.A. in Environmental Education, 1993
  • Earlham College, Biology, 1987

Areas of Specialization

I am interested in questions about how the environment shapes the behavior of animals. I am particularly interested in investigating why animals live in groups and how and why parents care for their offspring. I have investigated these questions in species ranging from bats to freshwater shrimp (amphipods). Recently, I have been working on better understanding how an invasive species affects the behavior and ecology of amphipods.

Scholarly and Professional Achievements

Lewis, S. E., J. G. Freund, and M. Beaver*. 2017. Consumption of native and non-native leaves by Gammarus pseudolimnaeaus: importance of stream conditioning. American Midland Naturalist 177(1):110-111.

Ellickson, A.* and S. E. Lewis. 2016. Impact of predation risk on parental care in amphipods (Gammarus pseudolimnaeus). Animal Behavior Society, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.

Lauby, S.* and S. Lewis. 2016. A novel approach to customizing enrichment for individual animals using behavioral networks. Animal Keeper Forum 43(5):136-139.

Navins, K. C.*, K. L. Williams*, and S. E. Lewis. 2016. Differences in predator escape responses correlate with reproductive status in an amphipod (Gammarus pseudolimnaeus). Journal of Freshwater Ecology 31:571-581.

Lewis, S. E., J. G. Freund, G. Riddell, J. L. Wankowski, J. T. A. Dick, and M. G. Baldridge. 2015. Interspecific comparison of estrogen and testosterone concentrations in three species of amphipods (Gammarus duebeni celticus, G. pseudolimnaeus, and G. pulex). Journal of Crustacean Biology, 35(6), 789-792.

Lewis, S. E., J. G. Freund, J. L. Wankowski, and M. G. Baldridge. 2015. Correlations between estrogen and testosterone concentrations, pairing status, and acanthocephalan infection in an amphipod (Gammarus pseudolimnaeus). Journal of Zoology (London). 10.1111/jzo.12309.

Navins, K*, G. Shelstad*, and S. Lewis. 2015. Parental provisioning in captively-bred red-billed hornbills, Tockus erythrorhynchus. Animal Keeper’s Forum 42(8):236-238.

Chouinard, S.*, E. Fax*, M. Francois*, L. Wolfe*, and S. Lewis. 2014. Cooperative care and social development in juvenile cotton-top tamarins. Animal Keeper’s Forum 41(12):336-339.

Hulina, J,* M. Lauf*, and S. Lewis, 2013. Courtship, nesting, and aggression in Gentoo penguins at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Animal Keeper’s Forum 40(3):114-122.

Lewis, S. E., A. Hodel*, T. Sturdy*, R. Todd*, C. Weigl*. 2012. Impact of acanthocephalan parasites on aggregation behavior of amphipods (Gammarus pseudolimnaeus). Behavioural Processes, 91 (2012), pp. 159-163.

Lewis, S. E., A. Yokofich*, M. Mohr*, C. Kurth*, R. Giuliani*, M. G. Baldridge. 2012. Exposure to bisphenol A modulates hormone concentrations in Gammarus pseudolimnaeus. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 90(12): 1414-1421.

Dick, J. T. A., K. Gallagher, S. Avlijas, H. C. Clarke, S. E. Lewis, S. Leung, D. Minchin, J. Caffrey, M. Alexander, C. Maguire, C. Harrod, N. Reid, N. Haddaway, K. D. Farnsworth, M. Penk, A. Ricciardi. 2012. Ecological impacts of an invasive predator explained and predicted by comparative functional responses. Biological Invasions. DOI 10.1007/s10530-012-0332-8

* Indicates undergraduate student author.

Service to Carroll University and Profession

Institutional Service

  • Co-Chair, Tenure and Promotion Committee, Carroll Univ.
  • Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center Advisory Committee, Carroll Univ.

Community Outreach

  • Kettle Moraine Natural History Association Board Member
  • Urban Ecology Center Citizen Science Advisory Board Member

Honors and Awards

  • Benjamin F. Richason Jr. Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Educational Innovation, 2016
  • “Parental Care, Cannibalism, and Mind-Control in Micro-animals:  A musical choose your own adventure story.” Milwaukee Public Museum Communicating Science Project with Dr. Rebecca Imes, 2015
  • Pioneer Scholar/STaR Scholar Grants
    • With Aubrey Ellickson, 2015
    • With Kelsey Navins, 2013
    • With Erin Lagerstrom, 2009
    • With Jordan Hofeditz, 2007

What is your teaching style?

Prepare to get involved! I am always looking for new ways to help students think through what we are learning. Some days, that might be a collaborative quiz with a scratch-off answer sheet. Other days, that might be a YouTube video of a puzzling animal behavior with a chance to discuss what’s going on. At times, students will lead the class based on topics of interest that they have had an opportunity to research.

Why do you do what you do?

In a nutshell, because teaching is fun. I love seeing students get excited about new information. I love watching the light bulb go on when they understand a difficult concept. I love challenging them to see and understand the world in new ways.

How do you make learning engaging?

One of the most important thing I do in my teaching is to look for ways to get students directly involved in research. In my Behavioral Ecology class, this means that we meet at the Milwaukee County Zoo every week. Labs involve designing and carrying out observational research projects on the zoo’s animals. Projects range from how red-billed hornbills or cotton-topped tamarins care for their young to how environmental enrichment decreases undesirable behaviors in ring-tailed lemurs or cheetahs. Students in my Ecology course design research that directly connects to the work I did on my last sabbatical leave. Sometimes, those class projects end up extending into independent research or Pioneer Scholar projects, too.

What should students know about you?

Students should know that my door is always open. I came to Carroll because I wanted to get to know my students and to build the kinds of relationships that I had with my undergraduate professors. If I know a student’s professional interests, I can help to match him or her with opportunities to gain experience. It is also great to get to know students as people and learn about their lives. I love catching up with alums when they come back to campus (but don’t feel bad if I’ve forgotten your name-my memory isn’t always the best!!).

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